Queer Our Schools

“it’s about human rights, stupid” – Oscar WildeThe Queer Avengers is launching its “Queer our Schools” campaign on 6 October with a march from the Ministry of Education at 45-47 Pipitea St, Thorndon, Wellington. We will be marching to Midland Park on Lambton Quay for speeches and entertainment.

Our youth-focused campaign is our first of three campaigns. Our other two campaigns on gender variants and older queers are still b…eing formulated.

Below is the list of demands for our youth-focused campaign and our immediate goals for this march.

Demands to the Ministry of Education:

1. Government resourcing for the formation of student-led, community supported queer-straight alliances in every secondary school in the country.
2. Incorporating sexuality and gender variance diversity into all relevant subjects, including history, health, science and English.
3. Making schools accessible and safe for gender variant students

A. Gender neutral bathrooms/private changing facilities

B. Non-gendered dress codes

C. Resources and education which fits the needs of gender variant students

D. Trans affirming spaces and role models

4. Zero-tolerance of homophobic & transphobic bullying and requiring professional development of staff to model queer positive spaces.

Our demands shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Ministry of Education. For years they have flaunted their legal care-of-duty to provide a safe mental and physical environment for students. It has known since at least the last 2007 Youth Report that schools are not safe places for queer youth. 33% of GLB youth reported being bullied at school on the basis of their sexual identity. We know that schools are not sites where queer identities are affirmed, where queer people can learn about their history and where they are encouraged to explore their queerness. If schools were affirming sites, the statistics on GLB youth making an actual attempt at suicide would not be five times higher than that for heterosexual students (20% as opposed to 4%). Further, the Ministry has also known since the 2008 Human Rights Commission’s report “To Be Who I Am” that schools remain simply inaccessible to many gender-variant youth. Education is a human right, yet the Ministry has done nothing to remove the barriers which make simply going to school a herculean task for youth who either don’t fit into the gender binary or are transitioning somewhere else along the spectrum.

We know that these statistics are not just numbers but real people. For years the Ministry has known these problems have existed yet have managed not to take any action to either making schools safe places for queers or simply accessible for gender-variant students. It’s time to hold them to account. It’s time to say that enough lives have been hurt due to their inaction.

If you want to get involved, contact us at thequeeravengers@gmail.com

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